Miami commissioners insist Marlins' parking garage must come in at $94 million city estimate
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Miami commissioners say the Marlins' parking garage must come in at the approximately $94 million city officials say it will cost or they won't pay to build it.
Three — Tomás Regalado, Joe Sanchez and Marc Sarnoff — say they won't support paying the $150 million or more a pair of studies project.
These commissioners said they needed clarification on the estimated costs of building the 6,000-space garage as the city negotiates with the Marlins and Miami-Dade County on stadium agreements that include a garage pact.
With several parking estimates recently surfacing, Mr. Regalado wondered which is correct.
A report by city consultant Jones Lang LaSalle estimated the garage and retail within it would cost $156 million. A Miami Parking Authority study priced it at $150 million without retail.
The administration is sticking to $94 million.
City Manager Pete Hernandez said "actual construction samples" were used to arrive at $94 million, but final pricing depends on the garage's appearance.
"I feel closer to $94 million than $150 million," he said, though he conceded a 10% hike could occur.
Costs per space estimated at $16,000 could rise to $18,000, he said. "We never know the final answer until we get to the bidding and construction phase."
He theorized a struggling economy would keep costs down by intensifying bidding competition.
While the region's economic woes could help the bid process, they're also a concern.
"There is no way we can issue bonds at this point, not the city, not the county," Mr. Hernandez said.
He also clarified a Parking Authority projection that the garage would run $8.3 million in red ink yearly if it cost the estimated $150 million to build.
Mr. Hernandez said the garage financial plan — which covers construction, operation, maintenance and capital repairs — would cover half the construction costs with Convention Development Tax funds and the rest with payments from the team for garage use.
A city-county agreement to develop a package of projects earmarks about $60 million in convention taxes for the stadium and garage, he said. A small portion covers the city's share of stadium construction, he added, and the rest goes to the garage.
He said the team is committed to lease 5,750 spaces for 81 games, with priority for use going to season ticket holders.
Mr. Hernandez said his financial plan has a "degree of contingency" in case the project runs over $94 million but with the economic downturn he didn't want to speculate on higher figures.
But he said he thinks the $150 million projection is extremely high and the city plans a facility that is economical.
"We could not move forward with a project that would have a yearly loss to the city," he said.
Mr. Sanchez, who backs the stadium deal, said at last week's commission meeting that he won't support a garage that would cost about $62 million more than projected.
Mr. Hernandez assured him the project is fully covered.
Mr. Sarnoff questioned why the city would spend close to $100 million on a garage when things like mass transit to move people in and out of the stadium need the money.